Business to business marketing has become one of the most challenging aspects of the modern marketer’s arsenal. But the rewards for those that can get it right are magnificent. We’re talking about a consistent flow of traffic, high engagement levels, and a conversion rate that most marketers can only dream off.
So why is it so difficult? Because of these rewards, it’s a challenging space to get into. That’s why we’re putting together this comprehensive guide to B2B content marketing. To help you beat the competition and get the top of your niche.
- This guide will cover the following:
- What is B2B content marketing?
- What is the difference between B2B content marketing and other types of content marketing?
- How to find an audience
- How to come up with content ideas and how to promote your content
- Examples of the best B2B content out there
What is B2B content marketing?
B2B content marketing is the process of using content to build your companies audience, grow brand affinity and drive leads, sales, and new users by appealing to other businesses.
How does it differ from B2C?
B2C stands for business to consumer. B2B is business to business. This difference is the target customer. What this means in practice is that the content will usually be more specialist or defined to a specific niche in B2B circles.
If your content’s actions cannot be applied to another business and help them achieve their goals and results, this is not pure B2B content marketing. That doens’t mean that you can’t have some more consumer aimed articles if your product range can be used in that context.
The benefits of B2B content marketing
Content marketing can be one of the most important assets for modern business. It can help with driving new business and unblocking new industries. It can also help to reengage and nurture customers from awareness to a sale.
The main benefits of establishing a B2B content marketing strategy are as follows:
Consistent inflow of new customers/users/sales
When content is done right, it’s evergreen. That means that taking the time to get your content right and elevating it to the right positions can represent a hugely consistent revenue stream.
Whereas paid marketing and other one-off campaigns can have a considerable effect on generating new leads, content marketing is organic. Once it’s a valuable piece and accessible, the number of conversions can be high and steady.
Content marketing is not a quick or straightforward win. It can take months from inception to reap the full rewards. But when a piece of content comes good, it can be a massive boost for any B2B business.
The best part is that content marketing usually represents little or no extra costs (aside from writing the content). This means that the return on investment is one of the best across different marketing channels. Couple this with the higher average revenue per customer in a B2B model (v B2C), and those ROI metrics are looking pretty good!
Content isn’t just about getting new customers through the door. The B2B sales journey can be lengthy, with complex products and propositions that require a clear and concise value proposition.
This is where B2B content marketing comes in. By creating compelling and engaging content, marketers can engage and nurture potential customers to the point where they are ready to subscribe, sign up, or purchase.
Improved learnings about your business and product
On the flip side, B2B content marketing is a powerful tool to understand your customers, product, and business. Content can help you understand what your customers are looking for and the best way to approach this.
These insights can be used across other marketing channels to help you nail your message and create more effective campaigns.
How to succeed at B2B content marketing
Content marketing isn’t a quick process. It takes time, a lot of patience, and the ability to test and integrate based on what is working and engaging your customers.
We’ve created a complete guide to B2B content marketing below to hit the ground running.
Before you can write the content that your audience needs, you need to know who they are. It’s essential to understand what your audience does, their most significant problems, and how your business can help them solve these.
This is the fundamental part of any marketing strategy, creating audience personas and other key indicators of what constitutes your ideal customers.
However, it’s crucial for B2B content marketing to segment your audience further based on where they are in the funnel.
You can get the necessary information on this from web analytics. Looking at the pages that your users visit and the age, gender, and interests can be an effective way of understanding what your funnel looks like and how you can engage, educate and engage at each stage.
For example, looking at your site visitors and understanding that most of your audience is within the 25-34 and male will help you to tailor your B2B content marketing strategy for millennials.
Analytics can be a powerful tool to help you understand the types of visitors visiting your site. However, understanding your audience is an ongoing process. With every piece of content you publish, you will generate more data about how your audience interacts with your strategy.
Adding time spent on page and even conversion metrics to the mix can help you generate a granular understanding of who you should have in mind when writing new posts.
So you have a grasp of who your audience is and what their challenges are, but how do you come up with content ideas that will engage with them and ultimately generate business?
Writer’s block can always be a problem with SEO and content marketing. Luckily there’s a few options to help get the ideas flowing.
Use social media as inspiration and validation of ideas
One great way to identify content opportunities in your B2B niche is to see what is happening in your industry’s social circles. What are they talking about? What is getting high levels of social engagement on Twitter?
Several tools can do this, such as Buzzsumo. However, keeping in the loop is an integral part of the content generation process, so look for the essential people in your space, follow them and get a hold of the main issues facing the industry.
Identify user intent and get to the bottom of your audience’s problem
Let’s use an example here. Let’s say we are an advertising agency looking to publish some content to generate leads interested in running a Facebook ad campaign with us.
We know that some of our current customers are worried about the changing format of ads on Facebook and have already asked us some fundamental questions about restructuring the ads in their accounts.
We can identify this intent as an opportunity to build content around this challenge and educate users to create brand awareness, engagement and even generate leads that could potentially use our service to run ads in this new format.
Our potential users are looking to answer two specific questions:
What is the new ad format?
How can I use this effectively to generate new business with Facebook ads?
When planning and writing B2B content, it’s essential to understand that the reader must be getting something out of reading the content. Being too promotional and brand-centric can be damaging to the success of your piece.
As well as this, search engines will want to rank content that helps people solve the problems that users have. That’s why using this intent, problem solving method can be incredibly useful.
Another approach for content ideas is looking at what people are searching for and identifying gaps in content where you can provide expertise and help answer questions.
Some excellent keyword research tools allow you to type in variations of problems that you have identified for the people in your niche. Most of these will help you find new keywords and usually provide useful metrics to show how often these are searched and how difficult it would be to get content to rank for these terms.
This strategy is about getting the right balance between potential audiences and difficulty. But you can find great long-tail keywords with little problem that can form the basis of entire pieces of B2B content.
Similarly, other tools such as Google trends can help identify topics discussed in your niche on a higher level. These can be more fleeting trends such as changing industry legislation or hot topics that can generate massive engagement if you can get in early with a piece of content.
Writing B2B content
Write first and then edit well
Sometimes it’s important to get your ideas down on paper. For many B2B content writers, it can be scary or intimidating to start writing content and put your ideas out there in the wide world.
Keep your audience in mind and write in a way that addresses their concerns. You’ll have plenty of time, later on, to edit and fine-tune your messaging.
Remember why you’re writing each piece
Are you trying to rank for a particular keyword? Is there a specific goal that you want your readers to achieve? Wherever you write B2B content, try and keep these goals in mind.
Many tools can help keep this process streamlined and ensure that you don’t miss out on that perfect keyword.
Your readers aren’t always here to just read about your new shiny product. You have to help them solve a problem. If your product helps with that, then great, but over the top injections can be a real put off.
Keep your messaging simple and avoid unnecessary jargon (unless you are writing a super technical price). If your piece is trying to educate B2B customers, make sure you speak to them in an accessible way.
Evergreen pillar pieces are an excellent place to start
An excellent place to start and test with is with pillar content. For search engines, this is a great solution because it provides more opportunities to rank for different keywords and allows you to cast a broader net to potential customers.
These can be fine-tuned and perfected into smaller pieces later and can even be repurposed into other B2B content forms, such as podcasts, webinars, videos, and ebooks.
How to promote your B2B content
Content promotion is an essential aspect of any B2B content marketing strategy. For organic growth, it’s important to build a content distribution process and ensure that each time you publish a new post, you take the time to promote your content in the right way.
In today’s landscape, it’s impossible to reply on one channel. Depending on your customers, there are many ways to get eyes on your content, here’s some of the top methods:
While organic traffic on social media is decreasing, it can still be a valuable channel to reach dedicated subscribers.
However, paid promotion is undoubtedly a more effective way of promoting your content. Some marketers would argue that it’s even essential in the current landscape. LinkedIn ads can be an effective way to target your ideal audience and perhaps is more tailored to a B2B audience.
Social groups are another great place to look to promote your content. Each niche will likely have a dedicated group on Facebook or LinkedIn. Joining and building relationships in these groups can open up a valuable B2B content distribution channel.
SEO and outbound SEO
SEO is an absolute must for content promotion in a B2B company. It’s a length process, but the rewards are a consistent stream of organic visitors. On top of this, it can be instrumental in driving traffic from specific keywords.
This means you can get granular insights into what customers are searching to get to your page. Focus on building links to your pillar content and target keywords that have a big opportunity.
Every B2B business should look at email marketing. Building a newsletter offers a chance to reengage your site visitors, and it’s a great way to keep bringing back customers that might have lapsed.
Distribute new content, but remember to provide value alongside. Talk about what is going on in the industry, what are the most significant issues facing your customers?
Best examples of B2B content marketing
Hopefully, you have a good idea of what B2B marketing is and how to start building your strategy to generate new business. Next, let’s look at some great examples of where other companies have succeeded with B2B marketing. Nothing like some inspiration to really get the creative content juices flowing!
How they succeeded:
LeadPages focused on creating educational marketing assets to help them compete with much larger companies offering similar products.
- They built an expert marketing blog focused on educating readers on lead generation and A/B testing.
- Expanding their content into other areas includes free educational ebooks, courses, infographics, and case studies.
- They went out and made one of the most successful B2B podcasts out there – ConversationCast.
HubSpot’s approach has helped to place them as one of the largest B2B businesses.
How they succeeded:
- They created their industry-specific term “inbound marketing”, and it’s kind of caught on.
- They built their blog to cater for each stage of the funnel.
- They go beyond new content forms to include novel ideas such as quizzes and tools.
A lesson in consistency and quality.
How they succeeded:
- They create content at regular intervals with a robust distribution strategy.
- They built a dedicated forum for their niche where experts help to contribute content to their site
- They know the technical problems that their customers face, and they match these effectively to specific pieces of content.